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tv   Ali Velshi on Target  Al Jazeera  March 30, 2016 9:00pm-9:31pm EDT

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>> it is a fascinating story, operation nemesis. we'll look for the movie. are. >> thank you. >> that's our broadcast. thank you for watching. i'm john siegenthaler. "ali velshi on target" is next. >> i'm ali velshi. "on target" tonight, america's cold war in the caribbean is fast coming to an end. the united states and cuba are taking steps to end more than half a century of disagreement. yet the embar go is in place. cuba is in the throes of change
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and the relationship with the ufts may never bunited states pe same. president obama has removed some restrictions on trade and bank and this month he traveled to the country. no sitting president has set foot in havana since calvin coolidge sailed there in 1928. but president obama spoke to them live from the great theater of havana. listen. >> i believe the citizens should be free speak their mind without fear to organize and to criticize their government and to protest peacefully. and that the rule of law should not include arbitrary detensions of peopldetentionsof people whoe rights. >> our reporter david ariosto
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used to live in havana, as a base to report on it for an american audience. he went back to have a look at the america's policy and how it could fundamentally change cuban communism. >> reporter: for restaurant owners in cuba this is the picture of progress. live music, free-flowing rum and a high class of clientele who aren't just foreigners, cubans at least dine and drink. and for a country that has long aspired to do away with notions of rich and poor, a new and historic shift in u.s. policy could deepen the divide in this communist country where new stratas of wealth and class are already beginning to form. while be panels of
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revolutionaries like be che guevara still line the streets, shrinking state payrolls have allowed private companies to crop up. it's amaze yoing you can see ite this. it was a brick wall shrouding the strownt if you wer restaura. you wouldn't even know it was here. now they're showcasing what they have and that is emblematic of the change in cuba in which some cubans are getting rib e-richer. a chef produces a japanese style dish, it's a scene of lumpary that for generations have been off limits to most cubans. but the island's emerging
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private sector which will get a major boost under the new u.s. policy has left restaurants and places like these with a little more cash to spend. >> translator: when we started this restaurant, a plat of food used to cost two or $3. now nothing costs that. >> reporter: private enterprise has alway always exin cuba but mostly underground. in 2011 with that cash crunch that this country experienced, most recently as fuel price ves started tshave started to drop d venezuelan subsidies are no longer there or started to drop, so-called cuban's mostly state run economy is trying to turn out more private enterprise and
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in restaurants like these, it seems to be working. but drive just 15 minutes down the road to old havana and the sort is much different for many who live here and still depend on compensation from the government. the opportunities are grim. >> translator: we are in the lower class. you understand? the middle class has much more opportunity to get involved in the tourism here. >> translator: on the outside, everything is normal but on the inside there are social differences here. >> reporter: on the bottom rung are those like alberto. who earns where $20 a month sweeping floors in a nearby hospital. his family includes everyone from his 92-year-old mother to his two-year-old daughter that rely on that paycheck to survive. running water and basic pluj often don't work.
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plumbing don't work. there's not enough money to patch the holes in the roof. in the adjacent room is his die bettic brother, his leg needs to be amputated. his medication cost $20 per bottle, the entire monthly salary. >> there are people who have more possibilities and in the end if you don't have your house you don't have anything. >> reporter: when fidel castro roarode to power in 1950s, cubas health system still face chronic shortages, in part as a result of the u.s. trade embargo. that means those who need prescription medications often have help to bring them into the country, in places like miami. like much of the funding for
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cuba's new array of businesses, in fact relatives sent almost $3 billion back to the island last year but not all evenly distributed. about 82% ever that money went to white cubans even though a third of the island's residents are considered black or of a mixed race. >> translator: it's not people who live out in the country side who get money and help. it's the white people who control the market here in havana. >> reporter: while money is desperately needed in this cash strapped economy some fear of a widening racial divide in a country with roots derived from he both spanish colonists and african slaves. cuban communism may be entering a new era of haves and have nots and open market colonial iism
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that castro wanted to avoid. >> disrupting the social fabric of cuba, it has to do with recreating a middle class and oproproand aprofessional class 9 revolution happened to bring about. >> reporter: david ariosto, al jazeera, havana, cuba. up next rum wars, heating an old trade mark battle for the heart of cuban spirits. this is america tonight.
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>> president obama has called on congress to lift america's haft century old trade embargo against cuba multiple times. he repeated those calls during his most recent visit to the island. but not everybody is b feeling e same cumbaya moment. bacardi feels opening of cuban rum in the united states. david ariosto has this report. >> reporter: in this new york city tavern there's a growing thirst for what kenneth connolly is serving up. u.s. rum imports has centered in
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the last five years to keep up with demand but to stay competitive, connolly is on the lookout for those brands. >> there's been a huge fascination of havana rum because you can't get it. obviously it is all going to change now because what's happening in cuba. >> reporter: hooivhavana club. a warning in relations, with the idea of stocking up. he's doing that in spite of a u.s. trade embargo that prohibits resale of products like cuban rum in the united states. >> if i can in all honesty, i would like to send as much as possible back. i would actually like to see if coy get cases of it. >> reporter: and that's exactly what may have bacardi
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the world's largest rum producer, a little uncertain. you can buy $100 worth of liquor and bring it back to the united states. and for havana club, that works out to be about 20 bottles. the concern that bacardi has is if enough people come back here and bring this back to the united states, it is possible that havana club, cuban style can start showing up in restaurants. part of the concern is ownership, in 1997 bacardi bought the rights to the name from a company that had been nationalized under fidel castro. that sparked a nearly two decade long u.s. trademark battle between bacardi and cuba, which
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has been selling havana club in other countries. bacardi eventually won, after spending $3 million to lobby congress to essentially rewrite u.s. trademark law in its favor. but now as the cold war with cuba thaws, those old rum wars play be heating up as more cuban spirits sneak into american bars. >> you're going to see a number of american lawyers get involved in this. because bacardi folks may say this is an end run behind restrictions. >> reporter: the u.s. rum market accounts for roughly 40% of global sales and cuba wants in. its french partner registered a new brand of cuban rum with the u.s. patent office, known as
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havanista. >> we should work to ending the embargo. >> as the talk of ending the embargo swells, the prospect of rum from castro's cuba represents more than just new competition. founded in cuba's eastern city of santiago de cuba in 1862, bacardi has been long linked to the history. the company even supported fidel castro's rise to power. but once in power castro double crossed the bacardis and nationalized their operations as part of his government. exiled but not defeated, bacardi built up its facilities in mexico and puerto rico. intent on overthrowing the castro government. the effort failed but the family
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vowed to one day return to its home land. walking through streets of havana you can't help but get the sense of being in a time warp. there are so many relics to the past, including this building, you can see the b emblaze oned on the wall for bacardi. you can get a sense of why there is such emotional attachment to this property for these cuban compiles whexiles who left the . be including bacardi's offices and distilleries. $6 billion worth of american assets were also seized triggering a u.s. trade embargo that's lasted for more than half a century. >> the reality is many of the companies, almost every one have written off the value of these claims decades ago.
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but they are still on the books. >> reporter: u.s. losses, those have to be resolved before the embargo can be lifted. in the meantime, kenneth connolly intends to stock up. >> coming up. america and cuba are making amends. so why are u.s. taxpayers still footing the bill?
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>> just before president obama announced the historic reset in relations with cuba's government the cuban american national foundation opened the doors to its gleaming new headquarters in the heart of miami's cuban exile community. symbol was jarring. the group is made up of anticastro hard liners, and groups like these have received tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to try destabilize the castro government. they have one thing in common, they are all still working but why is the obama administration
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still funding them? david ariosto went to havana to find out. >> reporter: it's known as domino park in little havana, people like pedro reale, an 87-year-old who comes here to socialize and play dominoes. he fled the communist island bound for florida on makeshift rafts. in the years since little havana has evolved from an anti-castro hotbed to an anti-castro industry. cropped up over the years with the express purpose of toppling castro's communist government. sustained by hundreds of millions of dollars in u.s. government funding. but america's historic shift in relations with the communist
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island is raising new questions about whether that stream of money will continue. those like mri gel who founded the anticastro group, are concerned about what that will mean for cuba and the anti-castro community. >> do you think it still makes sense to keep sending money down here to south florida to develop groups that are fighting the castro government? flog we've done has really changed much over there. >> that's right. it's working 50%. >> so you're saying about half of the dollars that are spent in terms of anticastro activities are actually making a difference? >> about 50, 45%. because if it's working 80% castro wouldn't be about see? >> how is it working? >> um -- doing in cuba violence.
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>> but not only attempts to dislodge castro failed, the money received by u.s. government has at times been misused. in 2006, it was clear that be nearly $74 million that the u.s. organization of american development had been doled out to organizations without a bidding process. one miami company used the money to buy sony play station is, be cashmere be sweaters and godiva chocolates. u.s. aid acknowledged creating a twitter like network on the island, aimed at organizing protests against the castro government. >> whose idea was it? >> the program was designed in 2007 and 2008. >> it was scrapped use two days
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later. but in 2009, the agency tried again and attempted to recruit and promote young cuban rappers like los aldayanes. shown here on tour. it was part of a broader effort to pressure change on the island, an attempt that was later exposed and has hatched a nascent scheme all on its own. between 2009 and 2011, congress allotted $55 million for these so-called democracy-building projects in cuba. but that doesn't include another $26 million a year it spends on the office of cuba broadcasting. which sends news programming to cuba from miami, with a decidedly anti-castro slant. >> i'm not going to say that's a small amount of money but
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democracy doesn't come cheap. liberty doesn't come cheap. it's been going on for a long time. our reach has improved dramatically. >> reporter: u.s. taxpayers have spent roughly three quarters of a billion dollars since its creation in 1983 and yet it's not clear what that money has actually achieved. so to get a sense of what americans are getting for their money, we traveled to cuba. upon arriving at least one thing is clear. radio waves from miami don't often get through. the cuban government jams both short wave and regular radio snrals. signals. >> here we don't hear it. >> text and downloaded influences casts on thumb drives. yet despite of that, a recent congressional report shows that less than 2% of cubans are
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listening. yet that doesn't mean change is not visible ton streets. therthere are places in havana, these are the areas that the miami community and the radio bees of the world would hope to be targeted. new buzz on the island, particularly in these so-called hoahot corners. >> basically talk about baseball? talking about politics as well apparently about baseball you listen long enough and it's politics as well. >> reporter: president obama's new policy opens the door to more remit answers.tances. congress would have to approve that plan but the moves are
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raising eyebrows in this aging exile community where many of cuba's hard liners, play be laying a new game with their old foe in havana. for the last half-century, scenes like these have been off-limits for most american travelers but u.s. embargo that began in 1960 cut off american trade and tourism and helped keep cuba frozen in time. but times are change and president obama's new policy will not entirely lifting the ban against visiting cuba is make the communist island more accessible to americans than it's been in decades. so we decided to head to cuba to get a firsthand look at the
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island since president obama pledged to normalize relations with america's old cold war foe. >> it's 45 minutes from miami to havana, wheels up, wheels down. the market that's supposed to be opening up hasn't started to open up. last year about 100,000 citizens traveled to cuba. not to mention the 300,000 cuban americans visiting family and friends each year. tourism expect that number to double this year, because of the new policy, and while the embargo still makes travel illegal, there are thousands of exceptions. americans no longer have to ask for permission to travel here.
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they have to fit into the 12 categories, based on self reporting. it's not whether americans are ready to head to cuba, it's whether cuba is ready for them. those accustomed to five star hotels may find current accommodations a little bare bones, crumbling infrastructure and critical shortages. >> we bring our own toilet paper, nice soft charmin. from the us. >> while u.s. visitors will be able to use credit cards and debit cards, cuba is mostly a cash-only society. >> it will take a while for american tourists in volume. >> still, more trade with the world's largest economy have some here in havana hopeful that this new u.s. policy is actually just the beginning. >> no more embargo, i tell you,
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no more embargo, everybody is going to be the americans going to be welcome here. >> reporter: in the meantime, tour guides in havana will have their hands full with more and more americans descending on the island. >> and that's our show for today. i'm ali velshi, thank you for joining us. game down? >> absolutely not, no one was slowing the train down. >> and the white house trying to rein them in today. thank you for joining us i'm joie chen. tonight a look at crime, justice and what may prove president obama's last major campaign. an all-out effort to force change in the criminal justice system.

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